The Hidden Passages of St James’s

Our walk today takes into the secret world of St James’s with its many passages, courtyards and cellars. We’re guided by a route described in Secret London by Andrew Duncan which starts at Piccadilly Circus and goes along Piccadilly. We then walk through the Wren Church of St James’s Piccadilly to Jermyn Street and follow this into Bennet Street and then down a set of steps into Park Place and the home of the Royal Over Seas League. From here we find Blue Ball Yard and then Spencer House in St James’s Place and another secret passage that leads into Green Park. From here a passageway takes us into Cleveland Row and St James’s Palace. Moving towards Pall Mall we explore the wonderful Picking Place, Crown Passage, Angel Passage and King Street before returning to Jermyn Street and then back to Piccadilly Circus.

Tanks, Transit Vans and mounted guards on the Strand

I’d just walked onto The Strand from Waterloo Bridge with Gerry King after recording a radio show for Resonance fm when we noticed something was afoot. No traffic was moving westwards. None. I was about to pontificate on how Canterbury Pilgrims used to stop and water their horses here at a stone trough when we heard the clatter of horses hooves on the road and a procession of mounted guardsmen rode past. That is an odd sight in 21st Century London. Odder still was that they were followed by soldiers in white transit vans one of which was sitting in the middle of the front seat holding a gleaming silver sword.

The only explanation I can find for this unscheduled show of 18th Century military might (and out-of-place transit vans) is that US President Barack Obama is visiting London on Friday and this somehow might impress him, as if we were a colonial backwater preparing for the visit of imperial functionary. Oh god, that does sound too accurate doesn’t it. Anyway the guards looked nice in their shiny armour and nice hats.